Your big race is approaching. You have followed your training plan, and you are ready to race, albeit you are a bit nervous. That's okay. We are here to help with a few tips for your pre-race routine.
Some of you taper and some do not. Some of you do not run for an entire week prior to your race, while some of you barely back off your mileage and workouts at all. Many of you have asked us what to do in the few days prior to your race. Here you go.
1. Run the day prior to your race. This doesn't mean go out and do a hard workout. Just head out the door for an easy 2-3 miles followed by some build ups. Why run? It keeps your body active and it keeps your mind focused. If you have to travel, you will likely be stuck in the car or on a plane for a good portion of the day. Go for an easy run to shake out your body. Why include buildups? Muscle memory. Your body remembers the last thing you do. So - make the last thing you do fast. This is part of the reason we encourage you to push the last mile of every run. It helps your body build speed and remember how to run fast. Your muscles will remember these buildups, and this will help you on race day.
Some people say you should not run the day prior to your race, but a short run on the day prior to your race will help you from falling flat in the last few miles.
Here is an example of what we might do the week prior to a goal race. Your schedule may not mirror this, and that is okay. It's simply showing that it is okay to run the week before a race.
Monday: 8 miles
Tuesday: Off/Rest Day
Wednesday: TFC Workout
Thursday: 5 miles + Yoga (if yoga is something you do regularly)
Friday: 3 easy miles with buildups and stretching
Saturday: RACE DAY (13.1)
Sunday: Easy 3 miles to remove lactic acid
2. Get your stuff together. Seriously. Lay out what you plan to wear. Make sure you have your bib number (don't forget safety pins) and timing chip. Going to be chilly? Rainy? Make sure you take enough clothes to stay warm and dry. Planning to check a bag? Pack it the night before and make sure you attach your bag check tag. Have plans right after the race (and no time to shower)? Make sure you grab a fresh set of clothes. Basically, don't wait to do all of this in the morning. Preparing your gear the night before will relieve some of your stress.
3. Eat right. The day prior to your race is not the day to try new food or the day to try to eat the 72 oz steak at your favorite restaurant. Eat well, and stay away from foods that upset your stomach. Lactose intolerant? No extra cheese pizza for you today. Try to make breakfast and lunch your larger meals, and eat a smaller dinner. This allows your body time to process your food so you don't feel heavy on race morning. Make sure you eat a good balance of carbs and protein (especially if you're racing long). Make sure you hydrate properly as well.
4. Review your race day and race strategy. How will you get to the race? How long will it take you? Where is bag check? Where will you meet your friends and family post-race? Do you plan to run with a pace group? Do you know their race strategy? What starting corral will you be in?
What are your race goals? Go over how you plan to reach them. Are there places on the course that may be challenging? How do you plan to attack those portions of the race? Basically, run the course in your head and visualize yourself crossing the finish line with your goal time showing on the clock/your watch.
5. Surround yourself with positive thoughts and believe in your training. Don't put yourself down or tell yourself you cannot do this. You can. You trained. Trust the work you've put in. Do not over think things. If you've trained right, your body is ready. Do something fun that won't wear you out. Visit with an old friend, go shopping with pals, see a new sight, or watch a movie you've been wanting to see. Don't work yourself up. Just enjoy your day and relax.
6. Skip the booze. We said hydrate accordingly, but we didn't mean with your favorite beer. Save it for after the race. Then, enjoy all you'd like.
7. Go to bed. You don't need to hop in bed at 5pm, but make sure you get enough sleep. Set two alarms, and wake up with enough time to eat a bit if you would like, and give yourself time to use the restroom. Remember, don't eat something you're not used to. Not sure what to eat? Try a banana and a bagel. Here's another little tip - the night before the night before your race is the most important sleep-wise. So, if your race is on Saturday, the rest you get on Thursday evening is more important than the rest you get on Friday night. That doesn't mean you can stay out until 3am and party on Friday. Go to bed - just know that if you don't sleep well due to nerves or a hotel bed, it will be okay.
So, crawl into bed and watch a movie and relax. You've earned it.
Here's a mock-up of a what your day before race day might look like if you're traveling to a destination race.
6:00am - wake up and go for an easy 3 mile shake out run: don't forget the buildups!
7:00am - shower and breakfast (make sure to eat a healthy breakfast with carbs and protein)
9:30am - meet friends and head to race destination
11:30am - stop for lunch (make this your bigger meal, and make it healthy - remember not to try anything new)
2:00pm - arrive at hotel and check in
3:00pm - go to expo and pick up packets and shirts
4:00-6:00 pm - SHOPPING (or whatever else you want to do) :)
6:00pm - dinner (make this meal a little lighter but include some carbs if you're racing longer tomorrow)
7:00pm - shower and prepare everything for tomorrow morning (make sure to check the weather)
8:00pm - crawl in bed and turn on your favorite movie or read a book
9:30pm - go to bed
10:00pm - seriously. Go to sleep. You have a big day tomorrow
So, don't be scared to run the day before your race. It will help your body, and calm your mind. It will help keep you fresh, and it will help ensure you don't fall flat on race day. Lay out your clothes and gear the night before. Hydrate properly, eat well, get some rest, and know your plan for race morning. You have worked hard, and you can do this.
See you at the Civic Center/YMCA for a tempo run on Wednesday.
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Each week, we notice different things. We try to incorporate the questions we are receiving or the training issues we are noticing into our post(s) for the week. If there is something you'd like us to cover, let us know!